Friday, October 31, 2014

A Larophile's Delight

For anyone who might not be aware who or what is a Larophile, it is one who arguably spends too much of his or her time sifting through flocks of gulls enjoying the challenge of identifying, aging and just studying them. In Queens NY, we have a dearth of locations for good gull congregation and often times I find myself further out east on Long Island in search of a good gathering to comb through.

Recently, some sites on Long Island have given birders (those larophile types) a chance at observing the not so common Lesser Black-backed Gull (larus fuscus) in a variety of plumage. I first chanced upon 23 such beautiful birds on  October 11th and then on October 19th, I had 31. If you think those numbers are high, then this would impress you. My friend Tom Burke recorded 46 LBBG on October 18th, all seen at Jones Beach West End parking lot. These are fantastic numbers with most of them being sub adults (ranging from 1st summer, 2nd summer and upwards), there was even a nicely marked immature bird in the mix providing for an excellent study.

Immature LBBG on left with immature GBBG on Right.

This time of the year is an excellent time to look for LBBG flocks as they gather along coastal sites gearing up for migration. I have yet to find one that is banded but I keep looking. We know so little about where our Lesser Blacked-backed Gulls are coming from (presumably Greenland) and where they are going for the winter.  I have provided some photos for study.

2nd Cycle LBBG.
The photo above is one that I am calling a 2nd cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull. This flight shot shows quite a lot of black in the tail with some gray in the mantle.
A3rd Cycle LBBG on left with A2nd Cycle LBBG on right.
This photo is an intriguing one as both of these Lesser Black-Backed Gulls are in advanced stages of their respective cycles. The one one the left I was satisfied to label a 3rd cycle; however, my friend Amar Ayyash a real hard core larophile, suggested that the same bird is more advanced and almost to adult stage. I am satisfied with calling it an advanced 3rd cycle. The bird on the right I am calling an advanced 2nd cycle. What are your thoughts?

Adult LBBG.

Now that you are have seen a few photos of different ages of Lesser Blacked-backed Gulls. Do you think you could age this one?

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1 comment:

Antid Oto said...

Based on the amount of pale in the bill and the very pale pink of the legs, second cycle? I'm not good at this.